Writing has always has been an act of bravery. Words carry power, and the writers that use their words to resist oppression – like Vaclav Havel, whose extensive resistance to the Communist regime in Czechoslavakia inspired a human rights award – deserve our awe and support. The freedoms we take for granted, including Free Speech, were hard won by people willing to wield their pen to fight for liberty.
The writing that most authors do, of course, is nothing so grand. However, it is still a (smaller) act of bravery to be willing to put themselves on the page and share it with the world.
KarenG asked a great question on her blog, Coming Down from the Mountain:
What if you knew there was a publisher waiting to publish you as soon as you got that current wip done and polished? What if there were no agents, no query letters or rejections to worry about?
There are a hundred acts of bravery on the way to having your work in the hands of readers. If we eliminate the gauntlet of publishing – queries, agents, editors, marketing – and you knew that your writing would be read by hundreds, possibly thousands, what would that mean for your writing?
For me, I would live in sudden fear that my work wasn’t good enough, prompting a maniacal refocusing on craft and perfectionist editing.
Every step of the writing process requires small acts of bravery. For some, just putting pen to paper is so daunting that they never do it. That simple act of facing the blank page and sharing your inner thoughts – the ones that perhaps even your closest family don’t know that you harbor – can be terrifying. Taking the risk of being creative, of letting go of the tight control we normally have over our lives, is daunting. Because storytelling is inherently biased – this is your perspective on life, and yours alone. Nathan Bransford described voice as a cumulative expression of who you are (among other things), and it takes some courage to let that shine through and expose your innermost self to the world.
It took a while for me to “come out” as a writer – to let the world at large know that I was doing this creative thing, writing stories for children. First I had to own the writer label in my own mind, but even then, there was a hesitation – what if friends, neighbors, acquaintances read something I’ve written, and they don’t like it?
It’s a risk.
My brother, a sage man three years younger than I, once told me he considered writing and other creative acts to have a moral imperative: that artists have an obligation to create. If they have the ability to contribute to the sum total of unique creations in the world, they have an obligation to make that art available to humanity.
I think he was joking, but I’m not entirely sure.
But I do know that it takes many small acts of bravery to produce any kind of art. So bravo to everyone who writes, from bloggers, to published authors, to writers who post their writing online for all to see.
What risk do you take to write?
(This awesome pix was taken from an even more awesome blog post here about taking risks)